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Despite a brutal winter for U.S. airlines, a new industry report estimates that more than 129 million people will take domestic flights in March and April.
A brutal winter for U.S. airlines is finally expected to warm up and deliver record passenger levels this spring, according to the latest industry forecast.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group that represents the interests of nine domestic carriers, estimates more than 129 million people (2.1 million per day) will take domestic flights in March and April.
Another 17.1 million people are expected to board international flights with U.S. airlines this month and next.
"We attribute the increase in spring air travel to rising U.S. household net worth, an improving economy, and the affordability of air travel," said John Heimlich, Airlines for America Vice President and Chief Economist. If the forecasts hold up, it will be a much welcomed rebound after a terrible start to the year for airlines crippled by a series of snow storms and bitter cold.
So far this year, more than 78,000 flights have been canceled, according to FlightAware.com.
Those cancellations have cost airlines tens of millions of dollars.
The rough winter weather, which started in December, barely put a dent in one of the most profitable years ever for U.S. airlines.
Meanwhile, the percentage of seats filled on airplanes stayed relatively high and airlines continued to collect several billion dollars in ancillary fees.
First published March 5 2014, 10:39 AM
Philip J. LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based at the network's Chicago bureau. He is also editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.
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Prior to joining CNBC, LeBeau served as a media relations specialist for Van Kampen Funds in Oak Brook Terrace, Ill. Previously, he held general assignment reporting positions at KCNC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Denver, and KAKE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Wichita, Kan. LeBeau began his career as a field producer at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, where he wrote, produced and researched consumer stories. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism with a bachelor's degree in journalism and broadcasting.